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Sunday, March 27, 2022
March 27, 2022 News Read
By Andrew Walden @ 6:39 PM :: 2641 Views

A Bold Step Forward from Diapers

Hawaii Inflation Will be the Highest in Decades, and Everything Will be Affected

BIN: … according to the Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, that $100 will be about $6 less.

That means, using groceries as an example, if you stock your wagon full of the same hundred bucks worth of food in 2022 as you did in 2021, because of inflation, you’ll only get $94 worth of goods this year….

How bad will inflation be in Hawai‘i, a state-dependent on shipping?

The short answer is it will be the worst the state has seen in the last two-plus decades, experts said. The 4.8% projection is conservative by some estimates, but still double what it was last year, which was 2.4%…

“Where it hits people’s pocketbooks is obviously in gasoline, but even more so in electricity,” Bonham said.

Hawaiian Electric already announced it expects energy bills to increase by 20% for the residents of the Big Island.

But there are other areas residents should keep an eye on, such as those aforementioned groceries. Bonham said he expects grocery prices to increase more so than other areas because of the dependence on oil the agricultural industry requires to produce food.

“In many cases, they’ve gone up more than oil has,” Bonham said.

The numbers say that is true.

The commodity sector has seen the sharpest increases thus far. Commodities are basically merchandise – all the items people tend to buy.

In January, the commodity inflation rate was 10.7% in Hawai‘i and 12.3% on the mainland. In February, the mainland saw it rise to 13%….

One figure that the projections did include thus far is what has happened in the housing industry – at least according to the statistics. Perhaps remarkably, Hawai‘i’s numbers say the state hasn’t dramatically impacted rents and housing the way it has already on the mainland.

Hawai‘i, overall, has seen rents increase by 3%, the experts said, a “silver lining of sorts,” Bonham called it.

Yet, real estate and property management professionals on Hawai‘i Island who spoke to Big Island Now said those numbers aren’t reflective of what’s actually happening on the local market.

Several of them told Big Island Now that they’ve never seen rental prices jump more than they ever have just in the last six to 12 months.

Krystal Vartanian Jacobs, property manager for LUVA Real Estate in Kona, and Gretchen Osgood of Hawaiian Isle Real Estate are two in the industry that said the prices are the highest they’ve seen.

Vartanian Jacobs recently rented a three-bedroom place for $3,600 a month while last year it went for $2,400. She wasn’t price gouging, just adjusting rates on a then-vacant home to the current market conditions at the owner’s behest, she said.

The listing didn’t last long on the market, either, she pointed out….

Osgood, too, recently had a similar rental with a similar increase. She also saw a Kona Sea Ridge condo jump $100,000 in price in six months. What she’s seeing, she said, is the “largest jump I’ve ever seen.”

It’s why both are skeptical the state number reflected in the housing industry remains as they are now. So is another property management company in Kona, which declined to go on record, but said they’re experiencing 40% increases in rent prices. …

read … Hawai‘i Inflation Will be the Highest in Decades, and Everything Will be Affected

When lawmakers confuse campaign funds with slush funds

Shapiro: … Keohokalole, a lawyer, portrayed it as an innocent mistake “that could have been easily avoided” and left him embarrassed.

But his personal copping of official funds wasn’t a one-time mistake, the commission emphasized.

“The commission is troubled by the fact that … Keohokalole’s mishandling of legislative allowance funds occurred not once, but on three separate occasions,” the report said. “The commission views these actions as an egregious violation of trust.”

It’s not small money at stake. Keohokalole had $73,831.37 in his campaign account as of Dec. 31, and it has likely ballooned with the start of the Legislature and the approaching election. Other lawmakers have hundreds of thousands more, which can be accessed with debit cards.

Legislators get $7,500 annual expense allowances, plus reimbursement of approved travel.

When they mix campaign funds with legislative allowances, the double-dipping can become like a shell game that rakes official funds into personal accounts.

The state Ethics Commission and Campaign Spending Commission work diligently, but with limited staffing there’s only so much ground they can cover, and those caught often get off with an “oops, sorry” and a fine.

Despite the potential political vulnerability this causes Keohokalole, nobody had pulled papers to run against him as of Thursday.

Infractions that start small can become big cases…

Former Rep. Kaniela Ing was fined $15,000 by the Campaign Spending Commission for filing false reports, using campaign funds to cover some $2,300 in personal expenses and depositing a $2,000 campaign check into his personal account…

read … When lawmakers confuse campaign funds with slush funds

Without Reform, CWS Doesn’t Deserve More ‘Positions’

CB: … Case No. 1: Six-year-old Ariel Sellers is taken from her home by Child Welfare Services. Relatives are ready to take Ariel in, but they say CWS ignores them. Instead Ariel is placed with strangers, Isaac and Lehua Kalua. Ultimately, they adopt her and change her name to Isabella.

Now the Kaluas are charged with murdering Isabella. She allegedly died trapped in a dog cage with duct tape covering her mouth and nose. CWS still won’t place her siblings with relatives.

Case No. 2: Bella is in her fifth-grade classroom when suddenly she is told her father has come to her school to pick her up. But the man is not the man she considers her father — rather it’s a man she barely knows — indeed a court order bars any contact.

But that doesn’t stop CWS. In what a judge would call a “grab and go” CWS flies Bella to the other end of the state and leaves her with the father she barely knows.

Neither of these cases is a result of CWS not having enough money or enough personnel. Rather, they demonstrate how children are harmed when an agency that operates in near-absolute secrecy is given near-absolute power over some of the most powerless members of our society, families that are overwhelmingly poor and, in Hawaii, disproportionately mixed-race or Pacific Islander.

Yet over and over, “solutions” proposed by state lawmakers involve making this agency even more powerful by making it bigger. That’s like seeing an out-of-control fire and deciding the best answer is more gasoline.

So state Rep. Sylvia Luke practically demands that CWS ask for more money to hire 48 more people, apparently on the theory that one of them would have checked more carefully before grabbing Bella and going….

provide families with high-quality defense counsel, so they can fight for whatever they need to keep their children safe. Where this has been tried, time in foster care has gone down dramatically, with no compromise in safety.

Most important, CWS needs to be understood for what it is: a police force. They are the family police, and like any other police force, they must be accountable for how they use their power….

2019: Still ANOTHER study documents needless foster care

read … Hawaii Should Curb ‘Grab And Go’ Mentality In Child Welfare Services

Trial delayed again: Ex-cop in missing drug case fires attorney as jury selection got underway

HTH: … A former Hawaii Police Department officer slated to stand trial last week on charges stemming from a May 2019 indictment for allegedly stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker in Hilo back in May 2016 received a continuance after firing his court-appointed attorney….

Background: Police Corruption Scandals Revenge for Gambling Prosecutions?

read … Trial delayed again

Don’t undermine University of Hawaii, astronomy

SA Editorial: … passage of House Bill 2024, even as amended by the Senate, would do permanent damage to the astronomy mission through a comprehensive restructuring of how the summit of the mountain is managed.

The message it would send, if enacted: Hawaii is not firmly committed to the pursuit of astronomy from the UH flagship telescope complex on Hawaii island. That’s because it would shift control to a new entity with only token representation of astronomy as a scientific pursuit and an academic discipline.….

Activists: Time to remove University of Hawaii as the Mauna Kea manager

read … Don’t undermine University of Hawaii, astronomy

Senate Panel recommends 5 nominees to Hawaii Land Board

SA: … The Senate Committee on Water and Land recently held public hearings on two separate days to vet five nominations from Gov. David Ige for the seven- member board overseeing the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Having five nominees at once is unusual because BLNR member terms are staggered to avoid such a scenario.

However, a coincidence of term alignment and prior board departures resulted in the current situation. The board governs an agency whose responsibilities include regulating use of public and private conservation lands, protecting natural resources including beaches and leasing state-owned commercial property to businesses.

The five nominees include two members who have held interim seats on the board since July and January, one member whose term that began in 2019 is expiring, and two people who would fill seats of two members with expiring terms in June.

All five received unanimous consenting votes from the four participating Water and Land Committee members, all of whom interviewed the nominees, during hearings held on March 18 and 21. The committee’s vote provides guidance for an upcoming decision by the 25-member Senate….

read … Panel recommends 5 nominees to Hawaii Land Board

Hawaiian Home Lands financial-assistance proposal stirs debate

SA: … The proposals concern Robin Danner, chairwoman of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations, who called them “almost offensive. … Would you advise your parents to remove themselves from the right to Social Security in exchange for pennies on the dollar? … It’s bewildering. It’s mind-boggling.”

None of the ideas were part of the original Hawaiian Homestead Act of 1923, which was a condition of Hawaii statehood in 1959.

“This is federal law and requires the consent of Congress,” Danner said. “You can’t just make stuff up to remove people’s birthright. It’s a second-grade solution to a fifth-grade problem. First it was a casino (to further fund DHHL) and now we’re trying to buy people off. How about we just focus on acquiring land and putting in infrastructure?”…

Richard Soo received an Oahu homestead in 2001 and said the $100,000 buyout undervalues future appreciation to current owners of fee simple homes.

“In essence, the state is paying Hawaiians off at a paltry price, in my opinion,” Soo said. “The state would not have been created in 1959 if not for the obligation of the state to take care of us Native Hawaiians. … Now they’re corralling a whole bunch of us Native Hawaiians and trying to pay us off in one fell swoop. They’re just trying to close out our rights to land.”…

At the request of legislators, DHHL conducted an email survey this month of about 12,000 beneficiaries asking, “If DHHL provided you with $100,000 to purchase a new home, to pay your mortgage, or to pay your current rent, would you be willing to remove yourself from the DHHL waiting list?”

Just under 600 people responded and 45% said they would remove their names, while 55% would not….

read … Hawaiian Home Lands financial-assistance proposal stirs debate

Bill 41 would impact Oahu’s economy

SA: … There are better solutions to address the problem, such as city Ordinance 19-18 (previously Bill 89), that give all the necessary tools for Honolulu’s Department of Planning and Permitting to stamp out illegal vacation rentals and cooperatively work with rental platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb.

To this accord, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami recently lauded the significance of Bill 89 in helping against illegal vacation rentals on Kauai, and with Maui County recently following in those footsteps.….

read … Bill 41 would impact Oahu’s economy

Big Island Politico Admits Spreading Lies About Apportionment for 20 Years

HTH: … Apparently, Oahu wants to keep stranglehold control of our Legislature by adding nonresidents to our U.S. Census count….

(WRONG: Nobody is being added to the Census count.  The author, former Hawaii County Councilmember Brenda Ford, supports subtracting people who were counted by the Census in Hawaii in order to justify adding one undeserved representative and/or senator to the Big island.)

As I testified to our 2001 Reapportionment Commission, adding the nonresident military and their nonresident dependents would cause these persons to be counted twice — once in Hawaii and once in whatever state is their “home” state. That would cause military personnel to have twice the legislative influence of other American residents.

(WRONG: Nobody is counted twice b y the US Census.  Brenda Ford admits to spreading this lie for 20 years.)

Please remember the “one person-one vote” stricture. It also applies to the U.S. Census counts as “one person counted in only one state.” Such a misallocation also allows Oahu to claim legislators that rightfully belong to the Neighbor Islands who are already frequently out-voted based on their much lower population numbers and legislators.

(Brenda Ford claims to support equality, but when her lie is stripped out of the equation, she is indicting herself here.  Hawaii is the only state which attempts to exclude so-called non-residents from apportionment counts.)

read … A column Wrongly Titled ‘It’s wrong to count nonresidents twice’

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